Shavuot, Megilat Ruth & The 10 Sefirot Part Four
Transcribed by Daniel Goldman from a lecture recorded on 4 May 1999: At that point, Abraham created his part of the two-way relationship with God. It was such a powerful statement that we refer to God in the Shemoneh Esreh as Elokei Avraham, “The Lord of Abraham.” In other words, God defines Himself by Abraham! A human being went on his own, formulated a plan to serve God, and God responds, “Now I want to define Myself by that human being.”
Abraham committed himself to a life of Chesed because he wanted to create his part of the two-way relationship and therefore restore the good influence of Chesed in this world. Similarly, we human beings, in partnership with God, can uncover the influence of Chesed in the world.
Isaac experienced an entirely different God. He looked around and saw a life of giving and generosity. But when you’re tied down on an altar, and your father has a knife by your throat saying, “Listen, if God says I have to kill you, I have to kill you,” Isaac didn’t experience a God of Chesed. Isaac experienced a God saying, “This is what I want, and this is what you have to do. You want to live? I want you to die!” Isaac experiences a God of Gevurah – strength, power, judgement.
So Isaac says, “If you will relate to me through the attribute of Gevurah, then that is how I will relate to you, through Gevurah.” Here Isaac creates his part of the two-way relationship, through the influence of Gevurah, and by doing that he restores the good side of Gevurah (as opposed to the bad side where people bully others, asserting their power).
Isaac defines his side of the two-way relationship so much that G-d defines Himself, like with Abraham, as Elokei Yitzchak – The Lord of Isaac.
Jacob had a different view of life. He finds himself in a situation in which he has to purchase the birthright from his older brother, who he knows to be evil, and he has to do it in a dastardly way. His brother Esau is starving, dying of thirst, and Jacob says, “Well, if you want something to eat and drink, then sell me your birthright.” Later, in order to get the blessings from his Isaac (which Rebecca knows are his), Jacob has to trick his father. On the surface, this doesn’t seem good at all. Later, he goes to the house of Laban and all sorts of trickery is traded back and forth. Jacob doesn’t really understand. He’s vulnerable to people who don’t understand. (“Look buddy, you’re no Tzaddik!”) He has reason to believe it. Just when he begins to find peace in his life, his son disappears for 22 years. Later, he finds out that his son is alive. Not only is he alive but he’s the Viceroy of Egypt. Not only is he the Viceroy of Egypt, but he has saved Egypt. He has saved the civilized world. And there is now a safe haven for the Jewish People.
So Jacob and his household come down to Egypt. When he sees Joseph, he thinks, “This is unbelievable! I was convinced that this was terrible. But now I realize that that which was terrible was actually for the good.” Everything in his life that he thought was for the bad, balanced out. So therefore Jacob said, “I have to relate to the world the way You relate to me, with balance.” Therefore, Jacob committed his life toward Tiferet, beauty or balance, because the real beauty comes out when everything is balanced. Jacob restores Tiferet to the world.
Moses restores the next sefirah. Moses brings the Torah down from Sinai. And that Torah is eternal. Everything that Moses does has an eternal impact. Therefore Moses experiences the eternality of God, and relates to God through the influence of Netzach. Moses is willing to fight when he needs to. He experiences the positive aspect of Netzach and restores Netzach to the world.
Aaron is a different sort of chap. If you bring a sheep to Aaron, he doesn’t see a sheep. He sees in this sheep a human being that deserves to die, and with this sheep, his soul and his life can be saved. If you bring him flour, he doesn’t see flour, but a way of sharing existance with you in the Tabernacle, or in the Temple. If you show Aaron spices, he doesn’t see spices; he sees these as a way to fix the sin of Adam and Eve. This is because the only one of the five senses that Eve didn’t use to sin was her sense of smell. Aaron understands that by using spices, and using only sense that was never corrupted, we can use it to relate to God in the most secret place – The Holy of Holies. When he sees spices in the spice rack – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme, he doesn’t see a Simon & Garfunkle song, he sees a way to relate to G-d on the highest level. He doesn’t see things by what they look like on the outside, but what they look like on the inside, by their Hod, their Glory.
So if two people were in a fight, he would say to one, “Let me show you how beautiful this person is…You’re angry with him? I’ll show you how beautiful he is.” And he would end the fight. He loved this. He loved everyone. He saw the innate Glory in each and every person.